Q & A: Feeding Ducks

By Bob Lefebvre

Here at the Birds Calgary blog, we receive a lot of questions from bird-friendly folks throughout the province. We are going to start sharing some of them with our readers as just another way to spread bird knowledge. 

If you have a question, email us at birdscalgary@gmail.com.  We may post your question and our answer.  We won’t print your name or email address.

Q: I was wondering if there is anywhere in Calgary that is a good location to go and feed ducks on a lazy Sunday afternoon?

A: There are several good spots to observe ducks at close range in Calgary, but it actually is not a good idea to feed them.  Many people do feed them bread and similar items, but these are like junk food for ducks, with lots of carbohydrates but not enough minerals and protein to provide for proper health and growth.  This sort of artificial diet is especially bad for the ducklings once they hatch. Besides malnutrition, there are other problems associated with feeding them bread products, such as the spread of disease and the loss of natural behaviors.

However, there are healthy products you can feed to ducks.  They do well on grains like cracked corn, wheat, barley, and oats; high-quality birdseed; grapes (cut up); chopped lettuce; and frozen peas and corn.  Any such feeding should be done in moderation and cautiously, with every attempt made not to disturb the birds.

Mallards at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

There are many small ponds in parks in the city where waterfowl can be seen.  Good places include Prince’s Island downtown, Pearce Estate in Inglewood, and Confederation Park between 10 Street and 14 Street NW.  All of these have benches or grassy areas near the water.  There is also a great lagoon at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary where you can observe Mallards, Canada Geese (and, in a few weeks, ducklings and goslings), the beautiful Wood Duck, and other ducks at close range, but it is illegal to feed wildlife in the sanctuary (it is also illegal in Fish Creek Park).  In any case I would encourage you to watch the birds but let them feed naturally wherever you go.

Canada Geese with goslings at IBS 

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